Christmas Words of Grace: Sunday

Christmas Words of Grace: Sunday

Originally posted on December 19, 2010

Dear Congregation,

Join me this Christmas week in private and family worship.

This Christmas I plan to let John Stott guide be through the narrative of the birth of Jesus in the Gospel According to Luke. I invite you to spend a few minutes each day in private or family devotion, reading about and responding to Jesus.

Each day this week you will receive a Words of Grace email with a devotional reading from Through the Bible, Through The Year, by John Stott. These readings will also be posted on the church website (link) so you can refer back to them at anytime.

I hope these readings will help you focus your mind on Jesus and consecrate your heart to him during this Christmas season.

Glory to God in the Highest,

The Nativity

We come now at last to the culmination of the Old Testament, the event to which the prophets have all in their different ways been leading, namely the nativity, the birth of Jesus the Messiah, especially as the story is told by Matthew and Luke. We are immediately struck by a change of atmosphere. Not only are these early gospel narratives steeped in Old Testament language and culture, but they are also accompanied by the miraculous. There is no need for us to be embarrassed by this. It is surely fitting that a supernatural person should enter the world in a supernatural way. If we believe in the incarnation, it is logical to believe also in the virgin birth.

Sunday: The Annunciation
Monday: Mary’s Song
Tuesday: The Virgin Birth
Wednesday: Mary’s Submission
Thursday: Bethlehem
Friday: The Shepherds
Saturday: The Fullness of Time

Sunday: The Annunciation

“God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth . . . to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph.” Luke 1:26-27

After some four hundred years of silent waiting, suddenly God broke the silence, though, not through a prophet but through an angel. The message that Gabriel brought to Nazareth all but overwhelmed Mary—partly because she was to become a mother although she was still unmarried and a virgin, and partly because of the superlative threefold description she was given of her son to be born.

Firstly, he was to be named Jesus, indicating that he would be given a saving mission.

Secondly, he would be great, for he would be given a further and more elaborate name, the Son of the Most High. Mary would not have understood this as meaning what we mean when we call Jesus the Son of God but rather that he would be the Messiah, since Son of God was an acknowledged messianic title (see Ps. 2:7-8).

Thirdly, he would reign over Israel forever. Indeed, his kingdom would never end.

Savior, Son, and King were the three titles that the angel told Mary to give him.

No wonder Mary was “greatly troubled” (v. 29), even completely mystified by the angel’s message, and asked him what it meant. Here is Gabriel’s majestic reply: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God . . . .For nothing is impossible with God” (vv.35-37). We will reflect on the fact and meaning of the virgin birth on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, but meanwhile, tomorrow we must listen to Mary’s Song.

For further reading: Luke 1:26-32

John Stott, Through the Bible, Through the Year: Daily Reflections from Genesis to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), 141-148.